Locations, guides, and all the important things to consider when planning a Mount Rainier National Park elopement & wedding


Brides eloped at Mount Rainier National Park on an adventurous hike at a fire lookout

Mount Rainier is such an iconic beauty of Washington state. Located Southeast of Seattle and with just a fun little drive around 2 hours from Seattle Tacoma International Airport, you can get to one of the best National Parks in the Pacific Northwest with endless trails and views. For those who are out of state, yes the 14,140 ft mountain is covered in snow year-round so if you are interested in some epic snow-capped landscape, you’re at the right place 🙂

We’ve provided some photos and basic guidance in our article Top 5 Best Places to Elope in Washington where you can find info about Mount Rainier as well as other epic locations in the state. We would 100% recommend checking that article out since it will cover basic info on weather and some legality aspects of an elopement. This blog post will focus more on helping you plan your Mount Rainier National Park elopement. And hey, take it from an elopement photographer whose house is literally at the base of Mt. Rainier.

Bride and groom kiss on a mountain trail during their Mount Rainier National Park elopement

Important to know: New Timed Entry Reservation Required for Mt. Rainier Starting 2024

Explore Some Of The Most Adventurous and Beautiful Mount Rainier National Park Weddings, Elopements, and Engagements

HOW TO ELOPE AT MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK IN 7 STEPS

1) Choose the best location that fits your vibes and visions

2) Book an elopement photographer you can connect with. Send us an inquiry for a FREE consultation

3) We’ll talk and plan on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to make your elopement at Mt. Rainier the best day ever

4) Apply for a Washington marriage license

5) Apply for an elopement permit to get married inside Mount Rainier National Park

6) We’ll adventure around the location you picked, take in the beauty of Mt. Rainier, create memories, and we’ll photograph the heck out of you guys

7) Eat the cake, pop the champagne, and celebrate your marriage! Yay!!!


Step 1: Choose The Best Location and The Best Time To Elope at Mount Rainier National Park

Bride and groom hold lanterns while standing on a mountain trail during their Mount Rainier National Park elopement

WHERE ARE THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO ELOPE INSIDE THE PARK? AND HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO HIKE?

Mount Rainier has 4 entrances total, however, the 2 most popular ones are Sunrise and Nisqually (which would lead you to Paradise Visitor Center)

  • Nisqually (Southwest Entrance)
    • Open year-round and closest to the Paradise Visitor Center.
  • Carbon River (Northwest Entrance)
    • Open year-round and provides access to the deepest and largest lake within the park, Mowich Lake according to Visit Rainier.
  • Sunrise (Northeast Entrance)
    • The road to this entrance is closed around October – June due to snow. Closest to the Sunrise Visitor Center.
  • Steven Canyon (Southeast Entrance)
    • This entrance is closed from October – April. Closest to the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center.

Since Mount Rainier is such a huge park, it does offer us a lot of options in terms of hiking time, the kind of adventures you’re looking for, and the viewpoints you want for your elopement: alpine lakes, high terrains, snow-capped mountains, dreamy fairytale forests, waterfalls, etc…

With no hiking at all, you can stay in an A-Frame Cabin with gorgeous views of the river and mountains. A short 0.5 miles hike from Sunrise Visitor Center can lead you to an open field of wildflowers. Feeling a bit more adventurous? You can even do a 3 – 5 mile hike to one of the 7 Fire Lookouts for more of the “on top of the world” kinda feeling.

If you go straight to Google or Pinterest, you’ll probably come across typical locations like Reflection Lake, Tipsoo Lake, Paradise Inn, etc… and yes although these places are beautiful, you want to think about crowd control and how that can affect the experience. Besides being your elopement photographers, we are also there to plan alongside you to assist in finding and choosing a location that speaks to your heart. Therefore, we focus on and value the experience you’re going to get. The best locations are the ones we haven’t shared publicly just yet, the ones that we’ve spent hours researching and scouting, making sure that we have permission to access them. And, when we do visit, we also make sure that we follow the Leave No Trace principles while we are there. This is all part of our services to you as your adventure elopement photographers. Contact us if you’re ready to inquire 🙂

Mount Rainier night time elopement photography

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO ELOPE AT MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK?

The best time to visit and get married at Mount Rainier National Park would have to be between July – September or the latest would be early October. This time of the year, all entrances are open and ready for all kinds of visitors

The first time I (Henry) ever visited the park, I stumbled upon a trail that leads to a Fire Lookout in early July and my mouth was on the floor the whole time seeing how beautiful this place was. From clear sky to wildflowers, summer months are hands down the best time to visit Mount Rainier.

With that being said, we do want to be as transparent as possible when it comes to weather. Although there will be more sunny days during the summer months, we are talking about the Pacific Northwest where weather is super unpredictable. You might experience sun, rain, and snow all within one day of your elopement.

Late October – Mid-June would be a bit more limited in terms of where we can do due to snow on trials or even snow on the roads up to the mountain. Nisqually entrance is open year-round. This part of the park would take you to Paradise Visitor Center. In the winter, when all the other entrances are closed, this entrance is very well maintained with plow trucks running during the daytime. This means you can still get married, we just have to plan on packing some extra gears to keep us warm and to keep us safe. But don’t worry, we’ll be there to help you through it all 🙂


Step 2: Find The Best Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Photographer and Book The One You Can Connect With

Bride and groom elopement photos at Mt Rainier National Park

WHY US FOR ALL YOUR MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS

We are huge believers in “there’s a photographer out there for everyone”. We don’t know how you ended up here reading all these words but we know you are here for a reason.

Growing up, I never thought one day I would become an elopement photographer. I went to school for nursing and started working as a Cardiac ICU Nurse for a while before my heart found photography and more importantly, my heart found a need for documenting memories from seeing how short life truly is.

When we grow old, photos remind us of how we once looked. When times get tough, photos let us re-live those times when life was much easier and full of hopes and dreams. When we lose our loved ones, photos are the only things that live on and allow us to immerse in the nostalgia and memories. Photos are timeless. Photos are sacred.

This is why we don’t mess around when it comes to creating a safe space for our couples to express themselves, to feel how they feel, to be who they are meant to be, so we can truly capture their true authentic selves.

Besides the main focus of capturing memories and moments, we are also huge believers in “Leave No Trace”

WHAT IS “LEAVE NO TRACE” AND WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT IT?

As experts in adventure elopement photography, we care a whole lot about “Leave No Trace”, which is where we go on adventures for photos but also make sure we leave things the way they are by doing our parts to preserve the beauty of nature. Here are some things we do and expect our couples to do (not limited to):

  • Stay on trails
  • Not climbing over fences, roped-off areas, or places with visible signs of “Do Not Trespass”
  • No meadow stomping
  • No confetti inside the National Park (doesn’t matter if they are bio-degradable or not): Each National Park has their own living organisms, plants, animals, etc… By us leaving things behind, we can harm these living organisms. Bio-degradable confetti takes a while to degrade and might need rain or water to speed up that process. In the meantime, other animals might still be able to ingest them. If you are thinking about confetti, we can do so at your cabin (if allowed)

Step 3: Transportations, Accommodations, Pets, and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to Elope At Mount Rainier National Park

Bride and groom kiss in front of A-frame cabin during Mount Rainier elopement

WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO STAY FOR YOUR MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

As mentioned previously, with the 4 entrances you can see how massive Mount Rainier is. Depending on how adventurous you want your day to be, you can choose to stay inside the park or outside near one of the entrances.

For inside the park, you can stay at:

  • National Park Inn: Located in Longmire, this inn is around half an hour from Paradise
  • Paradise Inn: This is right at the very top of the mountain.
  • For more adventurous vibes, you can also stay at one of the campgrounds inside the park: Cougar Rock Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground, White River Campground, Mowich Lake Campground

For outside the park, you can stay at:

  • Wellspring Spa, Storm King Cabins, A-Frame Cabins, etc…
  • These places are more flexible since you can pick a cabin based on what they offer, capacity, and amenities.
  • Since you’re staying outside the National Park, you also have fewer restrictions on what you can do with your wedding. For example, you can hire caterers for an intimate reception dinner with a beautiful view like this one.
  • Visit Rainier has such an awesome list of some places you can check out. And as always, Airbnb is also a good resource.
Bride and groom hold hands during their elopement at Mt Rainier National Park

CAN WE INVITE GUESTS? HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD WE HAVE AT OUR MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

We’ve photographed elopements that consist of just the couple and we have also photographed elopements where 15 family members and friends also came along with the couple. There are no rules when it comes to having your wedding day how you have envisioned it. If you want to read more on this topic, we have written a blog post on 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping.

In terms of legality and paperwork, you will need 2 adults who are 18 or older to sign as your witnesses. If you choose to not have guests, oftentimes, we become one or both of the 2 witnesses and we have a list of options for a second witness if needed for when we plan together.

Bride and groom holding hands while walking through Mount Rainier National Park for their elopement

WE HAVE A DOG OR TWO, CAN WE BRING OUR PETS ALONG WITH OUR MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

If you are thinking about bringing your pets to Mount Rainier, here is some basic info you need to know:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times. Leashes need to be 6 feet or less in length
  • Pets must be with you at all times. No tying them to trees
  • Pets are not allowed on trails within the Park
  • For a full list of rules with pets, see the official statement from the park itself

Looking at the list of rules above, you might feel discouraged about eloping at Mount Rainier. However, don’t be. As a dog father of 3 fur babies, Henry knows how important it is to include your pets on your elopement day. Therefore, our number one recommendation would be staying and hiking a trail outside of the park where you can still get the iconic Mount Rainier in the back. From a 2-mile round trip hike to something further like 5 or 7 miles, we have compiled a list of places we have worked like crazy on and we are ready to share with you once we start on the planning stages after booking.


Step 4: Marriage License and Legality in Washington State

Bride and groom hold hands during their intimate wedding ceremony in front of Mount Rainier

HOW TO APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE IN WASHINGTON

Since Mount Rainier is within the state of Washington, you will need to apply for a marriage license to get married here. Per state law, you will need to apply for a marriage license at least 3 days before your elopement date. Please keep in mind that you can only apply for a license within 60 days of your elopement date.

If you are from Washington or if you arrive at least 3 days before your elopement date, you can visit any local office to get one. If you are from out of state and don’t have enough time to arrive early and wait, the BEST WAY IS TO APPLY ONLINE AND HAVE IT MAILED TO YOU. More Information on your marriage license can be found HERE.

HOW MANY WITNESSES DO WE NEED? WHAT ABOUT AN OFFICIANT?

You will need an officiant and 2 witnesses. If you have family and/or friends who can be there for you, that’s amazing. If not, it’s ok, oftentimes, we are one or both of the witnesses, and we can recommend a list of officiants for you.


Step 5: Apply For A Wedding Permit for Your Mount Rainier National Park Elopement

As mentioned in Step 1 and Step 3, you can get married inside Mount Rainier National Park or in beautiful locations near the park, but not necessarily inside. Depending on the exact location, this will determine whether you need to apply for a permit or not.

If you are thinking about going inside the park, you will need to pay 2 fees:

1) Entrance Fee: You can choose to pay for a one-time visit or you can use your America The Beautiful Pass to enter the park

2) Permit Fee for Wedding inside Mount Rainier National Park:

  • For intimate elopements, there are fewer restrictions on where your ceremony can be.
  • For weddings of 60 guests or more, we are limited to using campground amphitheaters as ceremony sites.
  • Please fill out the Application Form and submit a $60 non-refundable application fee online (this fee might change over time)

Step 6: Everything Else To Prepare For Your Mount Rainier National Park Elopement

We know that when you seek an adventure elopement, you seek an experience. An elopement does not mean the day is “less than” a traditional wedding. Therefore, we decided to dedicate a whole page to my site with multiple blog posts and resources on elopements.

Why eloping? How can we make this day unique and special? What else should we think about? If we can’t have our family with us, what are some other things we can do to let them be involved from afar? These are just some of the many questions we know you might have, and we will be there from day 1 to prepare you and plan with you for a day that none of us will ever forget. It all starts TRUST & INTENTIONALITY.

More information, resources, and what-to-pack reminders will be sent throughout our planning process together.


Thanks for reading and we hope you consider us as your Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Photographers. You can read more About Us, Pricing, Elopement Packages and Everything we are about. If you are ready, please head over to our Contact Page to send an inquiry.


Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Packages

– Photograph by Henry or Sergio

– Explore anywhere within Mount Rainier National Park

– Coverage from 4 hours to Full Day

– A personalized elopement experience with unlimited guides and resources as promised above (click here to see everything that is included)

– All your breath-taking photos in a secure & private online gallery

– Travel fees included

Starting at $6,900

(Ranges between $6,900 – $13,200)


Ready to elope? Need our help in finding the most perfect location for you? Need more clarification?


Henry Tieu & Sergio - Elopement Photographers

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